Category Archives: General resources

Would you like to become a contributor to and co-owner of this blog?

As regular visitors will have gathered, I have been posting here less frequently in recent months. This is mainly because I have shifted most of the day-to-day reporting of events to the Facebook page. However, it is also a function of time constraints.

In this context, I am exploring the idea of changing the nature of this blog.

Up to now, it has been a very personal exercise. There have been some guest posts, but I have done almost all of the posts myself. However, looking at other blogs, such The Monkey Cage, the LSE’s family of blogs, and I-CONnect, there is an increasing tendency for blogs to have a collective ownership. This facilitates more posts, more hits, and a higher profile. Hopefully, it also generates a better quality of contributions.

So, I am putting out a call for people to come on board as co-contributors, co-owners of the blog. I am looking for a group of people who would be willing to commit to relatively regular posting, maybe once or twice a month. Ideally, there would be a good geographical spread of co-contributors, so that as many countries as possible can be covered as regularly as possible. Co-owners do not necessarily have to be country experts. I have tried to encourage comparative analysis. So, I am hoping to encourage people with this focus to come on board too.

I have not quite figured out the mechanics of moving the blog to a collective exercise and some of this will depend on how many people are interested. I do not expect anything to change immediately, but hopefully together we may be able to generate a really exciting new blog.

If you are interested in becoming a partner and having a stake in this blog, then please e-mail me directly, or leave a comment if you prefer. My e-mail is robert.elgie@dcu.ie.

SP resource – Lusophone African countries

LegisPalop is a site that brings together legislation passed by Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa. The countries covered are Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. Obviously, the texts are in Portuguese, but there is always Google Translate, or the equivalent, if you don’t speak the language.

Anyway, from now until 15 August the site is offering free 48-hour access. So, you can access all of the constitutional laws, and other legislation, for these countries for a certain period.

Some of the constitutional texts for these countries are easy to find. However, others are very difficult. For example, I have finally been able to find the text of the February 1993 constitutional amendment in Guinea-Bissau that introduced semi-presidentialism and confirmed that the amendments in May and December 1991 did not! Another text that is really difficult to find is the October 1990 constitutional law of Cape Verde that introduced semi-presidentialism. The 1992 amendment is easy to find, but the original 1990 law is buried away in such websites.

So, this is a great resource and for a limited period it is free.

SP resources – Freedom House 2012 Report

The Freedom House 2012 Report has just been issued, giving the number of Free, Partly Free and Not Free countries as well as a list of Electoral Democracies for the period 1 January-31 December 2011.

Given so much happened in 2011, there has been remarkably little change.

Only one country, Gambia, declined from the status of Partly Free to Not Free. One country, Tunisia, improved from Not Free to Partly Free.

Within these three categories, there were some improvements and disimprovements, even if there was no change in overall status. In terms of semi-presidential countries, there were only three changes. Ukraine and Yemen’s scores declined, even though the former remained Partly Free and the latter Not Free. By contrast, Niger’s score improved, even though it remained Partly Free. Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan were given downward-tending arrows, even though neither their scores nor their status changed.

In terms of electoral democracies, one country, Nicaragua, lost this status. By contrast, three countries gained this status, including Niger. This is the only change that affects semi-presidential countries in this regard. The other countries to gain the status of an electoral democracy were Thailand and Tunisia, which, of course, lost its semi-presidential status following last year’s revolution and the constitutional changes there.

 

SP resources – Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2011

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance has just been announced. It records the scores for 2010. The index is similar to others, such as the Freedom House and Polity indices. The Ibrahim Index goes from 0-100, with 100 being the best score. Here are the rankings:

The index only goes back to 2000, but it has the potential to be a useful time-series resource.

In terms of major semi-presidential changes from 2009, São Tomé & Príncipe has improved from 15th, Senegal has declined from 13th (having been 10th until 2006), Madagascar has declined again from 28th, and Togo has improved slightly from 38th.

In addition, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation awards the Ibrahim Prize “to a democratically elected former African Executive Head of State or Government who has served their term in office within the limits set by the country’s constitution, has left office in the last three years, and has demonstrated excellence in office.” The prize is worth of US$ 5 million over 10 years and US$ 200,000 annually for life thereafter. No prize was awarded in either 2009 or 2010. However, this year it was won by the former President of Cape Verde, Pedro Pires.

SP resources – Polity 2010 scores

Polity has recently updated its democracy/autocracy scores for 2010. The data set is available here.

The Polity scale goes from -10 (complete autocracy) to +10 (complete democracy). There were several changes from 2009 to 2010 in the overall (i.e. polity2) scores for semi-presidential countries:

Haiti declined from +5 to 0
Kyrgyzstan improved from +1 to +7
Niger improved from -3 to +3
Rwanda declined from -3 to -4
Sri Lanka declined from +6 to +4
Togo improved from -4 to -2
Ukraine declined from +7 to +6

Whether democracy has collapsed/emerged depends on where you draw the line between democracy and non-democracy on the Polity scale. There are various interpretation. One draws a dichotomous distinction between a democracy (+1 or more) and autocracy (0 or less). In this case, democracy in Haiti collapsed and in Niger it emerged. Another classification is the threefold distinction between autocracy (-10 to -6), anocracy (-5 to +5) and democracy (+6 or more). In this case, Kyrgyzstan has become a democracy and Sri Lanka has moved from a democracy to an anocracy.

Bear in mind that Polity does not include small countries in its list. Iceland and São Tomé and Príncipe, for example, are all excluded from Polity’s classifications. Interestingly, though, Cape Verde’s population is now big enough for it to be included. Therefore, it appears in the Polity dataset for the first time. The time series shows that Cape Verde became a democracy in 1991 with a change in its score from -2 to +8. It then achieved a score of +10 in 2001 and has remained at that score ever since.

SP resources – ParlGov dataset

A new dataset has come to my attention. The ParlGov dataset, which has been drawn up by Holger Döring and Philip Manow at the University of Bremen, is a really nice resource for people studying contemporary governments, including many of those in semi-presidential countries.

There is coverage of 37 countries, most of which are in Europe. The SP countries covered are: Austria, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Iceland, Ireland, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine (though there is very little information on Ukraine).

Taking Lithuania as an example, there is a list of all election results since 1990. There is also a list of all governments, listing the party composition (though not the percentage of ministers for each party). There are also links to external sources about the PM and the government. These usually just link to basic Wikipedia pages. However, in some cases they link to the full list of ministers with their party affiliation – Austria is a nice case going right back to 1945. Finally, there is information on individual political parties, including their ideological position on the left/right scale.

The data can be downloaded as a .csv file.

SP resources – Freedom House 2011 Report

The Freedom House 2011 Report has just been issued, giving scores for Free, Partly Free and Not Free countries as well as a list of Electoral Democracies for the period 1 January-31 December 2010.

Two countries declined from the status of Partly Free to Not Free, but neither was semi-presidential. Two countries also declined from the status of Free to Partly Free, one of which was Ukraine. Conversely, two countries improved from the status of Not Free to Partly Free, including Kyrgyzstan.

Within these three categories, there were also some improvements and disimprovements, even if there was no change in overall status. In terms of semi-presidential countries, Georgia and Tanzania both improved their scores, remaining Partly Free. By contrast, Sri Lanka’s score worsened, but remained Partly Free.

In terms of electoral democracies, semi-presidential democracies did very badly. Four countries lost this status, three of which, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti and Sri Lanka, were semi-presidential. By contrast, three countries gained this status, including Tanzania.

SP resources – Ibrahim Index of African Governance 2010

The Ibrahim Index of African Governance has just been announced for 2009. The index is similar to others, such as the Freedom House and Polity indices. The Ibrahim Index only goes back to 2006, but it has the potential to be a useful time-series resource.

The index goes from 0-100, with 100 being the best score. Here are the rankings:

The website sets out the methodology of the Index.

SP resources – Freedom House 2010 Country Reports

The Freedom House 2010 Report was issued in January. It gave the status (Free, Partly, Free, Not Free) of countries for 2009, their freedom scores, and identified whether or not they were electoral democracies.

Recently, Freedom House has completed its overall report with the presentation of its Country reports. They are available here. The reports are brief, but they are very useful for providing a basic overview of events in every country of the world, including countries about which it is often difficult to get any information whatsoever.

SP resources – Polity 2009 scores

Polity has recently updated its democracy/autocracy scores for 2009. The data set is available here.

The Polity scale goes from -10 (complete autocracy) to +10 (complete democracy). There were several changes from 2008 to 2009 in the overall (i.e. polity2) scores for semi-presidential countries:

Gabon improved from -4 to +3
Kyrgyzstan declined from +3 to +1
Madagascar declined from +7 to 0
Mauritania improved from -5 to -2
Mozambique’s score from 1994 onwards has been recoded as +5 rather than +6 and its score for 2009 is +5
Niger declined from +6 to -3
Senegal’s score for 2007 and 2008 has been recoded as +7 rather than +8 and its score for 2009 is +7

What this means is that two countries (Madagascar and Niger) slipped from the status of ‘democracy’ to ‘anocracy’ in 2009. In addition, the status of ‘democracy’ has been withdrawn retrospectively from Mozambique. So, semi-presidentialism’s record in 2009 was poor. Almost the only bright spot was Gabon, which recorded its highest ever polity2 score.

Bear in mind that Polity does not include small countries in its list (Iceland, Cape Verde and Sao Tome, for example, are all excluded from Polity’s classifications).